Posts Tagged ‘polytunnel’

And so, the new season begins

April 21, 2018

We got of to a bit of a false start this season because of Easter being so early. Nature was still sleeping. We had B and B guests over the holiday, but then all went quiet. Anyway, things start to pick up again this weekend and not just on the tourism front.

Now we at least have some cheery blooms to welcome our guests…

…as well as a freshly painted home.

Poor Kevin hates heights! We really should get a little man in!


Spring is also making its presence felt in the garden. After expelling the hens from their winter spa, who were none too happy about it as usual, the polytunnel is now shipshape with some early veggies now in place.


Some seedlings however, need the slightly kinder environment of the conservatory to encourage them to make an appearance.


Of course spring is not just about the appearance of all things green. Yesterday, our first chicks of the season arrived. BB, the bantam Silkie, has done us proud by hatching four youngsters. As usual, we exchanged her own eggs for those of our larger, table birds.



Silkies are wonderful mothers and BB has decided to keep her new family indoors for now, which is probably very wise as there’s quite a stiff breeze out there.

In a few days, we’re expecting our second batch of chicks, this time from eggs which we’re incubating ourselves. So, watch this space as they say!










Let the growing season commence!

March 25, 2015

I know that I got all enthusiastic the other day about the (hopefully) imminent arrival of spring. Well, we’re still getting some reasonable weather but quite cold these past couple of days. Gerlinde asked when I start planting our veg; in a nutshell, not yet, outside at least, although there’s a wee bit of planting and germination going on under cover!
In the conservatory where there’s some warmth, our first greenery is making an appearance; salad leaves, herbs, cauliflowers, broccoli, tomatoes, peppers and chillis.


Now that I’ve reclaimed the polytunnel from the hens, things are looking ship-shape, albeit not very interesting! But, the potatoes (which I’d forgotten to order until last week!) are a-chitting, under the damp patches on the left are some early peas and spinach, the seed tray holds broad beans and in the background are some fairly feeble strawberry plants!


In a week or so I shall plant some carrots and parsnips, closely followed by our early potatoes. Kevin rotivated the veg plot a couple of days ago so we’re ready for action. Shame really, it looks SO neat! As I may have told you before, I prefer the animal side of things really but at least this year, what with providing optional dinner for our B and B guests, I have more of an incentive on the herbaceous front as what a treat it will be to provide freshly picked vegetables and salad!

veg plot

With only five more days to go until the expected hatch date of our first quail, everything’s ready for them in the old church. Here is the brooder. We shall just use the one on the right and if more space is required as the birds grow, there’s a partition between both brooders which can be removed, almost doubling the floor space.


As the birds outgrow the brooder, then the floor runs are also ready.

Quail runs

Kevin is now putting his efforts into constructing outdoor quail accommodation for when summer arrives!

Nothing going to plan

April 30, 2014

The View

Our dry, spring weather continues so I thought I’d have a ‘garden day’. We’re off on an adventure on Saturday leaving Garybuie in the capable hands of dad and our ever-helpful neighbours, Mark and Gerlinde. I’m not going to tell you where our adventure is taking us, you’ll just have to wait until we return! Anyway, I needed to get the veggies ship-shape before our departure so I weeded the polytunnel and planted our main crop potatoes.

potato planting

Needless to say, getting the animals ship-shape is a different kettle of fish! Every year we make plans for our breeding program and seemingly every year those plans are thwarted. Apparently, this year is no different although to be fair, there is potentially beneficial plan-thwarting this year! Puff and Biggles are both definitely broody although at least one of the three musco-teers continues to lay in Puff’s box. The poor duck will be atop a pyramid of eggs soon! Broody Brenda hasn’t gone with our usual box-within-a-box ploy in the ‘polytunnel coop’ (probably in an attempt to avoid the Nest Thief) but instead is doing her thing in the over-by coop next to the duck houses.


Today is her first day sitting and Kevin has blocked the pop-hole at half-mast so that there’s no chance of the Nest Thief muscling in! Several of the other hens were using the box-within-a-box as well as one of the musco-teers, whose egg we removed every day. Yesterday, she was exhibiting broody behaviour so I checked the nest and believe me, the Nest Thief is a mere pick-pocket compared to the violent robbery performed by a musco-teer! There had been 6 or 7 hen eggs in there when I last checked but apparently, the broody duck had performed the Highland Fling in the nest resulting in a straw and wood-shaving omelette, garnished with one perfect Muscovy egg! Of course I had to clear the crime scene (whilst being SERIOUSLY heckled by the dastardly duck), including the duck egg which was covered in solidified egg yolk and straw, put new bedding in there and a ceramic egg in the hope of encouraging further laying. But by whom?


Yup, that’s a Muscovy’s rear you can see there and she’s sat tight all day – on a ceramic egg! This afternoon however, Kevin succeeded in slipping half a dozen Muscovy eggs under her. She scolded him but didn’t move an inch!

On a less violent theme, first-time mum, BB, is doing just fine with her wee family.


And even more excitement, for me at least! Yesterday, I received the latest ‘Paint’ magazine and found that I’d had my second publication of a painting! This time it was the ‘Keys and Curly Tails’ which I completed earlier this year.

Paint magazine

I think that I’m probably pushing my luck now, but yesterday I submitted the following painting to the magazine. I’ve entitled it ‘Looking for Mischief’ and I think that quite a few of you will know where this wonderful character lives!

Looking for Mischief

Open for business

April 2, 2014


the view

We are now officially open for business and the weather at the moment is certainly very holiday-like! No guests yet though but our first booking is on Saturday. It’s unusual to get people just turning up on the doorstep at this time of year. But we’re ready if anyone does! I can’t wait to serve breakfast in the new conservatory…


I have to confess that I’ve developed a bit of an obsession with the windows! Everything is so shiny and new that I can’t abide a blemish! I’m not a lover of cleaning windows but last week I gave them all a good wash ‘n’ polish and then can you believe it, an over-night shower deposited Saharan sand all over them!!! Winds are coming from the south-east currently, picking up sand on their way. As long as the winds don’t become gale force as I certainly don’t want any accompanying camels! Anyway, they are all shiny once more, so clean rain only please Mother Nature!

Because the weather has been so lovely, we had our first we trip out on the bike this year on Sunday. I’m surprised that there’s actually anything left of the machine after all Kevin’s over-wintering polishing! Anyway, we travelled around the north end of the island, a lovely circular route. Although it was sunny, it was quite hazy. A day for nature’s muted palette. This is Duntulm at the northerly point of Skye…


We didn’t see any visitors but we did encounter an unusual pedestrian!


Other good weather news is that after recovering the polytunnel, I finally got around to getting it ship-shape for spring. No more Chicken-Spa, much to their annoyance!


Spuds are chitting, there are lettuce and brassica seedlings coming on nicely and some garlic on the go.


And yet more spring news: after assistance throughout her ‘confinement’ BB the Silkie is currently hatching her eggs! Hopefully, I shall have some cute pictures for you tomorrow! Also, it’s with a huge sigh of relief to report that Hamie is now much better. She’s not back to her tree-climbing self yet but she’s eating well and breathing easier. Fingers crossed.


Plan, what plan?

November 9, 2013

Whilst having a cup of tea in bed this morning, I had a plan for the day. That plan was:
1. Change ducks’ straw
2. Pull up corn plants in Polytunnel/Winter Spa for chickens
3. Plant garlic in chicken-free zone in polytunnel
4. Put remaining red cabbages to cook in crock-pot, ready to freeze.
5. Come in out of the cold and get on with my latest animal portrait.

Well, 1, 2 and 3 went well. The ducks all have sweet-smelling straw and there’s no longer any corn in the scene below. You’ll just have to take my word for it that the garlic is planted behind that very stylish piece of drapery in the background!

Winter spa

Then I digressed. I hate it when I do that. It’s just that the day was bright and mainly dry – a rarity at the moment – and I looked at the chaos in the raspberry patch and well, that’s where I spent the rest of the day! I suppose that I should feel pleased with my un-planned achievement but I just ended up grumpy and frozen! Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for gardening. I actually decided that I probably really dislike gardening but bizarrely, when I came indoors I ordered next season’s seedlings! It’s just that all that fruit and veg tastes so good!

When it’s wet and cold, I really do prefer indoor tasks. You may have read a couple of weeks ago when I was camera-less that I was currently  re-decorating the B and B double room. I showed you the ‘before’ and now that I’m re-united with my essential equipment, here’s the after…

Double room

Double room 2

I hope that our next season’s guests will like it. Still on the subject of painting, albeit with a smaller brush, I’ve also just completed my latest portrait. His name is Whisky and as you can see he’s a true American! You may have met him before on the farm where he lives, if not, then go and visit, there are some wonderful characters there!

Now, here’s a wee conundrum. How to sex a Silkie. Apparently it’s very difficult. So far We’ve been convinced that all three are pullets but now I’m not so sure. I picked up the palest grey bird yesterday and there seems to be a definite comb development. Yes, I know that pullets have combs too, but to what extent in Silkies? All three are pretty much the same size. The two wee storm clouds are doing quite a lot of squabbling. Are they BOTH cockerels is it just the normal pecking order procedure. Interestingly, BB doesn’t seem to get involved. We’ve been online to check what the differences are, but it all sounds a bit vague, with even the experts making some serious gaffs! Maybe we’ll just have to wait and see who, if anyone, decides to lay an egg! Today it was the paler storm cloud who lost the argument…


So, as for tomorrow, the plan is to maybe go for a walk in the glen and then get on with a new portrait. At the moment we are walking our friends’ dog while one of them is working away. He’s a lovely wee Lakeland Terrier called Max and I thought I’d do his portrait as a Christmas gift.


Definitely spring – I think!

April 17, 2013


Pusscat may not be too keen on gale force wind and hefty, horizontal downpours, but rain is certainly something which we needed after an unseasonable, extended dry spell. Temperatures are much milder too, so finally some spring-like signs are evident and spring-like tasks in the garden are possible. (and enjoyable!)


At last, seedlings are making their appearance in the polytunnel – peas, lettuce, broad beans, broccoli, red cabbage, kale and cauliflower – and I’ve planted some new ones; brussel sprouts, courgettes and savoy cabbage.









veggie seedlings



Outside, I planted spinach, beetroot and under the tunnel in the background of the next shot are carrots and parsnips.





Of course there’s great activity among the fauna too. The birdsong and to-ing and fro-ing of the wild bird population is always welcome to fill us with enthusiasm for the new season. Someone who’s definitely filled with enthusiasm is the Sparrow Hawk who sees Garybuie as his local fast food outlet – VERY fast!!

sparrow hawk

muscovy eggAs far as our domestic fowl, we now have three Muscovy eggs – I think they were waiting for some warmer weather too! The question is, will Puff and Biggles both rear their own family or will we once more have shared parental duties?

After our recent disaster, when all 20 of our incubated hens’ eggs stopped developing, thankfully, 7 out of 8 incubated Aylesbury duck eggs were fertile at day 7 and after an interim check at day 14, all seven are continuing to develop. The dark area on the right of the egg is the 14-day-old embryo. Sorry, it’s not the best of photos.


And finally, another development, involving inanimate objects this time, is the new des. res. for poultry which is almost finished. We now suddenly have lots of CLEAN wall space, perfect for hanging some pet portraits I think! A dual purpose development in fact, although regular dusting of the frames will probably be necessary!

Des. Res.

Wintry weather and accompanying pastimes

November 3, 2012

There’s a distinct wintry, bleak feel to the glen at the moment. Temperatures have been falling below freezing most nights and the snow is still on top of the ridge. Let’s hope it stays there! But with the wintry conditions come wintry pastimes for the residents of Garybuie.

The Polytunnel Winter Spa for Hens is doing brisk buisiness…

…large pools are reappearing in the field behind us, so the ducks are happy…

…and (not suitable for vegetarians!) Kevin is well down the line of this season’s chicken processing…

Thanks to buying our three Plymouth Rock pullets last year at the poultry auction, we’ve had some good sized birds this year – one being 2 kilos, unheard of before at Garybuie! Still, we’re also getting some wee skinnies at half that weight, but hey, they still taste divine and perfect for two!

  As far as my winter pastime goes, today I completed my painting of Patches, which I intend to use as our Christmas card design this year. Generally I’m pleased by the outcome and I’m particularly happy with Patches’ eye and the bauble…and maybe the foliage. Other parts could be better, but a bit of self-criticism (or criticism from anywhere else for that matter!) can only lead to improvement. Hopefully!

Because of the Christmas thing and that she’s a kitten/cute, Patches jumped the Portrait Queue a wee bitty, as Hamie was originally intended to be my first model of the season. Your turn next girl!

   Another winter pastime, for both of us, is reading. I’ve just finished a book which I enjoyed more than anything in ages; Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman. Very amusing and quirky. I’ve also read ‘American Gods’ by him and have watched the film ‘Stardust’, also by him (and filmed, in part, on Skye) but this one is the best of the three, in my opinion. Just thought I’d pass that one on to you in case you’re browsing your library shelves!

A very brief introduction

May 7, 2012

Unfortunately, your introduction to Blind Pugh, one of our six-week-old chicks, is to be a very brief one. After moving them into one of the sheds within the garden a couple of days ago and restricting their wanderings with chicken wire until they know where home is, today was their first Free Ranging Day! We knew that this would be the big test for wee Blind Pugh, whose ears were his only method of locating his companions. Of course as soon as freedom was presented, the Seeing Five couldn’t contain their excitement, scuttling off to forage in new territory. We paid close attention to B.P. for several hours but it soon became apparent that his time was being spent listening for the others rather than feeding. He could scratch as much as he liked but how could he see what he’d unearthed? Seeing him alone and distressed like the picture was not a good thing, Mother Nature wouldn’t allow it, so neither could we.

The remaining five however, have been thoroughly enjoying their new-found freedom, from foraging around the compost heap…

…to finding tasty morsels under the bushes…

Anyway, after an upsetting morning, I took it out on THE WEEDS! Outside, to be fair, they aren’t too bad, probably because of the same dry, cold conditions which seemingly have affected the germination of the seeds which we want to grow, have also restricted weed growth. YIPEE! The polytunnel is a different story though. Nice and sheltered and damp – perfect for those uninvited guests!

April 11, 2012

Another fine day and more time spent in the garden, although in the polytunnel today because that cold wind had a bit more attitude today! Nice and warm under the polythene, I potted on my tomatoes and chillies, then planted seeds of lettuce, mustard, raddish, courgette, cucumber, pumpkin, kale, savoy cabbage and a second lot of broad beans. After being in fairly monochrome conditions all morning, I thought I’d check on some of the more vibrant colours on show at the moment at Garybuie…

More of an outdoor day

April 10, 2012

Yesterday we said goodbye to our Easter guests, praising their enthusiasm for the island despite the wretched weather!  At least they could actually SEE the glen during breakfast and enjoyed the view of the ridge which they were completely unaware of on the previous morning because of thick mist. However, although there was an improvement in the weather, outdoor activities weren’t particularly appealing so we spent a fairly leisurely Easter Monday. I made some more cards, among other things, supervised by Wallace. Or maybe he was just wishing for me to open the laptop so that he could check his mail?

Anyway, today has been much better on the weather front, quite sunny but a cold northerly breeze which meant that it’s been a ‘keep moving day’! Outside I planted spinach and beetroot seeds, as well as peas. I also planted out the broad beans and sweetcorn, the latter in the polytunnel though. Skye’s not sweetcorn friendly outdoors, but we’ve raised some decent crops under cover.

Someone who doesn’t care about the weather is Biggles. She’s been sitting tight on her nest for a week now and I have to admit that it does look particularly cosy!

Of course all this broodiness means that she’s unavailable for MacRae’s passionate pursuits. That doesn’t stop Huff from policing the dastardly drake however!

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